Wild Journey South

New Zealand’s natural landscape, raw and dynamic, a wilderness of epic proportions, is still a refuge for a rich variety of marine and birdlife.

Our Journey takes you from the golden beaches of Nelson down the eastern Kaikoura Coast to cross through the Southern Alps at Arthurs Pass to the West Coast and on to Lake Wanaka. You have the opportunity to view penguins, seals, dolphins, whales, wekas, wetas, and many other native wildlife as well as the experience of staying on a high country farm. The Journey connects beautifully with Wild Havens of the Far South (our Journey through Stewart Island, the Catlins and Fiordland).

Green Journeys allow you to build you own itinerary or adopt one of our suggested itineraries, book it or modify it to suit your special interests and dates. Green Journeys itineraries encourage staying at least 2-3 nights in each location so that you have a chance of enjoying the region, sampling the activities and attractions available and relaxing in your accommodation. Accommodations in our Green Collection are individually owned and hosted, intimate, luxurious and situated in beautiful surroundings. Our suggested activities are equally carefully selected.

Nelson - Kaikoura - Arthurs Pass - Fox Glacier - Wanaka

Duration:12 days, 11 nights
Connection points: Wellington to Picton ferry - Nelson airport - Queenstown airport
Activity level: moderate
Best season: October-April

Driving times

Nelson-Kaikoura 4-5 hours

Kaikoura-Arthurs Pass 4 hours

Arthurs Pass-Lake Moeraki 4 1/2 hours

Lake Moeraki-Wanaka 2 1/2 hours

Day 1 - Abel Tasman, Nelson Region
Stay: The Resurgence luxury eco-lodge
Start this journey from Nelson airport (1 hour drive to The Resurgence) or catch the morning ferry from Wellington to Picton and drive 2 hours 40 minutes. The Resurgence is set high in the bush clad Riwaka Valley and is just 15 minutes from Kaiteriteri Beach. The lodge is a sanctuary surrounded by private bush with abundant birdlife. Dinner one night is a highlight.

Day 2 - Abel Tasman, Nelson Region
Do: Tonga Island Marine Reserve with The Sea Kayak Company Stay: The Resurgence luxury eco-lodge
Paddle out over clear turquoise waters of the Abel Tasman National Park to Tonga Island. Visit with the inquisitive New Zealand fur seals, then explore on south through small bays and beautiful inlets to finish at sheltered Anchorage cove.

Day 3 - Abel Tasman, Nelson Region
Do: at leisure, explore the area with advice from your hosts
Stay: The Resurgence luxury eco-lodge

Spend a day hiking the Abel Tasman Park or exploring the valleys and beaches of Golden Bay. Do not miss the gloriously wild Whariki beach and Farewell Spit, famous for its bird reserves.

Day 4 - Kaikoura, Canterbury
Do: Drive Nelson, Blenheim, Kaikoura
Stay: The Factory

Allow 4-5 hours for the drive to Kaikoura. Stop in Blenheim
for lunch and to collect some wine from one of the famous Marlborough wineries. Enjoy great views of the Pacific Ocean as you head south and keep an eye out for seals on the rocks. The Hapuku Factory is situated 10 mins north of Kaikoura on the beachfront at Hapuku. The Factory is a lovingly restored 100 year old dairy.

Day 5 - Kaikoura, Canterbury
Do: Wings Over Whales Flight
Stay: The Factory

Take a morning trip with Wings Over Whales for a chance to see Sperm, Pilot, Humpback, Southern Right whales, Orca and even a mighty Blue Whale. There are also large numbers of dolphins.

Day 6 - Arthur’s Pass, Canterbury
Do: Drive to Arthur’s Pass
Stay: Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass

The drive to Arthurs Pass takes just under 4 hours. Follow the coast then take the inland scenic route via Oxford, a good stop for a light lunch. Then start the climb into the mountains as you approach Arthurs Pass. The lodge, which is just before the village is set amidst native beach forest with grand alpine river valley views in every direction. Dine at the lodge tonight.

Day 7 - Arthur’s Pass, Canterbury
Do: at leisure, explore the area with advice from your hosts
Stay: Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass

A highlight of staying here is a daily programme of complimentary nature discovery tours as well as farm tours and hikes available exclusively to guests. Discover rare mistletoes supporting many bellbirds or watch the border collie dogs round up the sheep. Dine at the lodge.

Day 8 - Lake Moeraki West Coast
Do: Drive to Fox Glacier, Moeraki
Do: Fox Trot Glacier Walk with Fox Glacier Guiding
Stay: Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki

Drive over the wild and spectacular Arthur’s Pass to the luxurient forests of the West Coast. At Fox Glacier (3.5 hours drive) stop for your hike with Fox Glacier Guides. Climb amongst crevasses and ice ridges which lead onto the middle of the glacier for spectacular views of the icefall and lower glacier.
It is an easy 1 hour drive south from Fox to Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge. The lodge is utterly remote, beside a river that runs between Lake Moeraki and the sea. Dinner is booked for you at the lodge tonight. relax after a long but enjoyable day.

Day 9 - Lake Moeraki, West Coast
Do: at leisure, explore the area with advice from your hosts
Stay: Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki

Each day the lodge runs two complimentary guided nature activities. Go forest exploring, hiking, birding, kayaking or discover the freshwater ecology of the Moeraki River.

Day 10 - Wanaka, Southern Lakes
Do: Drive to Lake Wanaka
Stay: Riverrun

A spectacular 3 hour drive further down the West Coast and then inland up the mighty Landsborough and Haast rivers and over the Haast Pass to lakes Wanaka and Hawea. Lots of options for short walks and detours to rivers and pristine lakes. Riverrun lodge is just outside Wanaka township, set on a 500 acre merino sheep farm. If you still have energy, bike along the side of the Clutha river to Lake Wanaka and watch the sun set over the Alps. We suggest booking dinner for the night you arrive.

Day 11 - Wanaka, Southern Lakes
Do: Mou Waho Island Cruise and Walk with Eco Wanaka Adventures Stay: Riverrun
A half-day trip up Lake Wanaka to Mou Waho island and hike up to an idyllic little lake called the Arethusa Pool with panoramic views of Lake Wanaka. Your guide from Eco Wanaka Adventures will point out buff weka, falcons, wood pigeons, bellbirds, fantails, wax eyes, greywarblers, the occasional kaka, geko lizards and wetas.

Day 12 - Journey’s End
Do: Fly out or join Wild Havens of the Far South. Queenstown airport is one hour from Wanaka and connects with other New Zealand destinations as well as direct flights from Australian cities.








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